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House subcommittee takes important first step toward meeting commitment to U.S. businesses and workers

 Earlier this week, the House Appropriations Labor, Health and Human Services and Related Agencies (L-HHS) Subcommittee released – and advanced to the full committee – their draft Fiscal Year 2020 (FY2020) spending bill, which would increase funding for workforce and education programs to or slightly above authorized funding levels.

This increase would represent the first time appropriators met their commitment to workers and businesses under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act and fully funded a program that helps workers get the skills businesses need for 21st century jobs. This important investment would support vital workforce and education programs that have sustained consistent underinvestment for decades.

During the mark-up, Chairwoman of the full Appropriations Committee, Nita Lowey (D-NY), focused on the importance of investing in workforce development and education that matches workers with skills necessary to fill open jobs and both Republicans and Democrats touched on the importance of these programs.

These increases are in large part consistent with the Campaign to Invest in America’s Workforce’s letter to House appropriators on FY2020 funding levels, on which National Skills Coalition joined more than 30 other national organizations to urge appropriators to adequately invest in workforce and education programming.

These increases are also overwhelmingly popular with likely 2020 voters – 93% of whom support investments in skills – and small and mid-size business owners – 79% of whom support new, public investment in skills.

Tell you members of Congress today – it’s time to meet the commitment made to businesses and workers and adequately fund workforce and education programs.

Department of Labor

The draft bill would increase funding for DOL by $1.2 billion, $709 million of which would fund programs under the Employment and Training Administration. It would fund Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Title I Formula State Grants for Youth and Adults at slightly higher than authorized levels, and would increase funding across Adult, Dislocated Worker and Youth funding of more than $400 million. This increase would be the first time Congress funds state grants at authorized levels since WIOA passed with overwhelming support in 2014. Since 2001, WIOA Title I state formula grants have been cut by nearly 40%, so this increased to authorized levels is an important recognition of the important role the workforce system plays in meeting business demand and worker need.

The bill would add $2million to funding, up to $8 million, for Workforce Data Quality Initiative Grants and $90 million to apprenticeship funding, increasing it to $250 million for FY2020. The bill included increased funding for national programs under WIOA, including a $10 million increase for Migrant and Seasonal Farmworker programs and an increase of nearly $30 million, to $127 million, for YouthBuild.

The draft also included several of Democrats’ policy priorities. It would create a new $150 million national grant program, using Dislocated Worker National Grant funds, to support workforce development provided at community and technical colleges and would allocate $25 million of funding from the Reentry Program to support intermediaries helping returning citizens develop in-demand skills. From the $250 million for apprenticeship, the bill would allocate 20 percent of funds to local and national organizations to help expand programming and 50 percent of funding to states, consistent with the way DOL has spent this appropriation in previous years.

Department of Education

The Subcommittee draft would increase funding for the Department of Education by $4.4 billion, up to $75 billion. It includes a $37.4 million increase to Perkins Career and Technical Education state grants, funding them at $1.3 billion. Congress passed – with overwhelming support – a new CTE bill last year, Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, and this proposed increased comes after bipartisan support for increased investments in CTE in the FY2019 appropriations package. CTE programs have been cut by nearly 30 percent since 2001, and this proposed increase would help reverse the trend of disinvestment.

The bill would also increase Adult Education and Family Literacy Act State Grants by $22.6 million to $664,555,000. Adult Education funding has been cut by nearly 20 percent since 2001, and these increases would be vital to scaling services to more than 36 million Americans with low basic skills, including 24 million who are currently in the workforce.

The max Pell award would be increased by $150 dollars, bringing the total for the 2020-2021 school year to $5,285.

What’s Next

The House is moving forward with mark ups for appropriations bills, using top line numbers set by House Democrats earlier this spring in absence of a bicameral budget resolution, and the full appropriations committee is expected to hear the L-HHS bill, and announce each subcommittee’s official 302(b) allocation, as early as next week.

Senate Appropriators have suggested the Senate will not move forward on individual appropriations bills until the Senate and House are able to agree to a budget deal that will raise budget caps – and avoid sequestration – imposed by the Budget Control Act (BCA).

Leadership is continuing to work towards a two-year budget agreement to cover FY2020 and 2021, the final two years to which BCA will apply. This agreement could be – as it has been in years past – coupled with an agreement to raise the debt ceiling, for which the Department of Treasure announced earlier this week it will exhaust extraordinary measures to avoid reaching in late Summer. Linking budget and debt ceiling negotiations may make it easier for members of both parties to support a slight increase in funding above FY2019 levels, but final funding is unlikely to be as high as the numbers proposed in the House bill this week.

Tell your policy makers today – it’s time to meet your commitment to workers and businesses. Invest in workforce and education today!

Also this week, Secretary Acosta testified in front of the House Education & Labor (Ed & Labor) Committee on the Department of Labor’s (DOL) priorities for FY2020. In his testimony, the Secretary recognized multiple times that the U.S. has underinvested in middle-skill jobs – and pathways that don’t include a four-year degree.

NSC and our partners in the Campaign to Invest in America’s Workforce will continue to advocate for critical investments in workforce and education and Congress continues the FY2020 appropriations process.

 

  FY 2020 – Authorized Levels Current Levels - FY 2019 FY2020 House Labor-HHS Subcommittee Change FY 2019-House L-HHS bill
Department of Labor
Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Title I – State Formula Grants N/A $2,789,832,000 $2,967,360,000 N/A
WIOA Adult $899,987,000 $845,556,000  $900,000,000 $54,444,000
WIOA Dislocated Worker $1,436,137,000* $1,040,860,000 $1,103,360,000 $62,500,000
WIOA Youth $963,837,000 $903,416,000 $964,000,000 $60,584,000
Wagner-Peyser/Employment Service Grants N/A   $663,052,000 $680,000,000   $16,948,000
Workforce Data Quality Initiative grants N/A $6,000,000 $8,000,000 $2,000,000
Apprenticeship Grants N/A $160,000,000 $250,000,000 $90,000,000
DW N/AtioN/Al Reserve N/A $220,859,000 $370,859,000 $150,000,000
N/Ative American Programs $54,137,000 $54,500,000 $55,000,000 $500,000
Ex-Offender Activities N/A $93,079,000 $100,000,000 $6,921,000
Migrant and SeasoN/Al Farmworkers $96,211,000 $88,896,000 $98,896,000 $10,000,000
Youth Build $91,087,000 $89,534,000 $127,500,000 $37,966,000
Senior Community Service Employment Program N/A $400,000,000 $463,800,000 $63,800,000
JobCorps $1,983,236,000 $1,718,655,000 $1,868,655,000 $150,000,000
Trade Adjustment Assistance $450,000,000 $450,000,000 $450,000,000 N/A
Department of Education
Career and Technical Education State Grants N/A $1,262,598,000 $1,300,000,000 $37,400,000
Adult Education and Family Literacy State Grants $678,640,000 $641,955,000 $664,555,000 $22,600,000
Posted In: Federal Funding, Campaign to Invest in America’s Workforce
Senators introduce bipartisan “National Workforce Development Month” resolution

On September 18th, Senators Feinstein (D-CA), Hatch (R-UT), Baldwin (D-WI) and Enzi (R-WY) introduced a bipartisan Senate Resolution to designate September as “National Workforce Development Month.”

The resolution recognizes the importance of federal investment in workforce development programming that provides training, education and upskilling opportunities for workers and meets business demands. It also notes the “crucial role in supporting workers and growing the economy” workforce development programming plays.

Earlier this year, the Council of Economic Advisors released a report in part highlighting that the U.S. invests far less in workforce development programing than other developed countries. Over the past two decades, investments in these programs have decreased dramatically. Funding for the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) has decreased by 40%, for the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act by 32% and those in Adult Basic Education has decreased by 20%. In the past two years, Congress has slowly begun to reverse this trend and a package passed by the Senate just this week would include a $70 million and $25 million increase in funding for states for CTE and ABE, respectively. This same package would level fund most programming under WIOA, however, and the small increases to CTE and ABE do little to rectify decades of stagnant and declining funding for programs on which communities and businesses across the country rely.

This Senate resolution makes an important statement about the bipartisan support workforce development programming has among policy makers and is a good first step to adequately supporting the programming the resolution highlights.

In recognition of Workforce Development Month and in efforts to further engage policy makers on the importance of federal investments in vital workforce and education programming, the Campaign to Invest in America’s Workforce will host a Congressional Briefing on Tuesday, September 25th, highlighting the importance of federal funding to support state’s and local areas’ capacity to meet worker skill needs and business demand, find the full invitation here.

Posted In: Federal Funding, Campaign to Invest in America’s Workforce
With tight subcommittee allocation, House Labor-HHS bill includes cuts to workforce programs coupled with boost for CTE

Last week, the House Appropriations Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS) Subcommittee released its draft of the Fiscal Year 2019 (FY 2019) Labor-Health and Human Services-Education appropriations bill. Despite an increased budget cap for FY 2019 agreed to earlier this year as part of a two-year, bipartisan budget agreement, the FY 2019 House Labor-HHS allocation was essentially the same as the FY 2018 allocation. This level allocation means increases to some programs under the bill, including to Perkins Career and Technical Education state grants and apprenticeship funding for the administration’s new Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Program but also more significant increases for programs under the National Institute of Health and Health and Human Services, are offset by cuts to other workforce and education programs.

Department of Labor

Funding for the Department of Labor overall is decreased by $88.1 million, with $216 million in cuts coming to programs under the Employment and Training Administration. 

Funding for Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) state formula grants would be the same as FY 2018 levels, $2.8 billion – still a 40 percent cut since 2001 and below authorized levels. Wagner-Peyser Employment Service grants would be cut by almost $81 million below FY 2018 levels to $585,788,000. The bill would also cut more than $20 million in funding from the Dislocated Worker National Reserve for FY 2019 and rescind $200 million appropriated to the program for FY 2018.

The bill would fund Workforce Data Quality Initiative grants at the same levels as FY 2018, $6 million.

The bill would provide a $5 million increase in funding for apprenticeship opportunities. Unlike FY 2016, 2017 and 2018 appropriations, the House bill would not restrict this funding to expand only registered opportunities. This change would allow DOL to use funds to support new industry recognized apprenticeships, consistent with expansion called for in the President’s June 2017 Executive Order.

Department of Education

Under the House bill, Department of Education funding would increase by $43 million over FY 2018 levels. Perkins Career and Technical Education State Grants would be funded at almost $115 million more than FY 2018 levels. This is consistent with the administration’s focus on CTE as an important component of their job creation agenda and bipartisan Congressional efforts to reauthorize the current legislation authorizing the program.

Adult Education and Family Literacy State Grants would be funded at FY 2018 levels and the bill would maintain the maximum Pell award at $6,095.

What’s Next

Aided by increased spending levels agreed to in the bipartisan budget agreement, both the House and Senate are advancing the appropriations process at a faster pace than last year. Members are motivated to complete the process with relatively regular order before mid-term elections in the fall and because of threats from the White House to veto omnibus funding legislation or continuing resolutions.

The full House Appropriations committee is expected to mark up the bill Tuesday, June 26th where it will likely advance on a party-line vote, with Democrats registering continued opposition to the subcommittee allocation and cuts required to offset increases to some programs above FY 2018 levels. In the Senate, the Labor-HHS allocation was slightly higher than in FY 2018 and the process continues to be slightly more bipartisan. The Senate Labor-HHS subcommittee is expected to mark up their bill (also) on June 26th. The Senate Labor-HHS bill has not yet been released. It is likely to include level funding for most workforce and education programs and be closer to the final funding levels than the more partisan House bill.

Through the Campaign to Invest in America’s Workforce, NSC was one of more than 35 national organizations to send a letter urging members of the subcommittee to support vital investments in workforce and education programs. NSC will continue to advocate for these investments as the House and Senate continue the appropriations process.

 

 

FY 2018 Omnibus

FY 2019 House Labor-HHS Bill

Difference FY 2017 – FY 2018 House Bill

Department of Labor

 

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Title I – State Formula Grants

$2,789,832,000

$2,789,832,000

-

WIOA Adult

$845,556,000

$845,556,000

-

WIOA Dislocated Worker

$1,040,860,000

$1,040,860,000

-

WIOA Youth

$903,416,000

$903,416,000

-

Wagner-Peyser Employment Service Grants

$666,413,000

$585,788,000

-$80,625,000

Workforce Data Quality Initiative Grants

$6,000,000

$6,000,000

-

Apprenticeship Grants

$145,000,000

$150,000,000

$5,000,000

DW National Reserve

$220,859,000

$200,000,000

-$20,859,000

Native American Programs

$54,000,000

$55,000,000

$1,000,000

Ex-Offender Activities

$93,079,000

$93,079,000

-

Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers

$87,896,000

$87,896,000

-

YouthBuild

$89,534,000

$92,534,000

$3,000,000

Senior Community Service Employment Program

$400,000,000

$400,000,000

-

Department of Education

 

Career and Technical Education State Grants

$1,192,598,000

$1,307,287,000

$114,689,000

Adult Education and Family Literacy State Grants

$616,955,000

$616,955,000

-

 

Posted In: Career and Technical Education, Campaign to Invest in America’s Workforce

White House budget promotes some workforce priorities, but includes drastic cuts to key programs

  ·   By Kermit Kaleba, Katie Spiker, and Katie Brown
White House budget promotes some workforce priorities, but includes drastic cuts to key programs

On February 12th, the Trump Administration released its Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 Presidential Budget Request, providing a mixed bag of funding increases and cuts across a range of federal workforce, education, and human services programs.

The annual budget request comes at an unusual moment in the Washington calendar, with Congress still trying to finalize spending levels for FY 2018. Congress last week passed a two-year bipartisan budget agreement that would raise defense and non-defense budget caps for the next two years by nearly $300 billion, including increases to non-defense spending caps of $63 billion for FY 2018 and $68 billion by 2019. Last week’s agreement also authorized a stopgap Continuing Resolution to keep the government funded through March 23rd as lawmakers work to complete FY 2018 spending decisions under the increased caps.

Because the President’s budget released today was developed before last week’s budget deal, it does not include funding at levels that are consistent with the new caps; instead, the Administration is touting broad cuts to non-defense programs – a total of $3 trillion over ten years – as a highlight of the FY’19 budget. While Congress is unlikely to adopt the President’s recommendations in their current form, today’s budget does put additional pressure on appropriators to consider at least nominal reductions in funding to discretionary programs under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, despite strong bipartisan support for these critical programs.

The budget request does include some good proposals around workforce and education, including a recommendation to expand Pell grants to short-term programs and additional funds for apprenticeship. The White House also released an addendum to their previously prepared budget request, in response to last week’s Congressional budget agreement, in which the administration appears to recommend spending an addition $1.3 billion in FY 2019 non-defense discretionary funds on WIOA formula grants – effectively overriding the $1 billion proposed cuts in the original budget request.

The budget request and addendum continue an inconsistent narrative from the administration on the importance of workforce and education programs. The proposed cuts aren’t surprising given an administration focus on eliminating federal workforce and education programs, and yet the President has touted the importance of job training as recently as his State of the Union a few weeks ago and proposed a renewed focus on expanding apprenticeship in his infrastructure principles released just this morning.

NSC continues to advocate for adequate investment in key workforce and education programs and the consistent inconsistency from the administration only reinforces the importance of weighing in with your policy makers to ensure they understand how vital workforce and education programs are to your communities, your work, and the President’s priorities.

Department of Labor. Overall, the President’s budget calls for $9.4 billion in funding for DOL, a cut of 21 percent relative to current funding levels. While recognizing the millions of workers in need of training and openings with U.S. businesses, the budget frames these cuts in the context of an effort to “consolidate and reorganize Federal workforce development programs.”

 The request calls for cuts of approximately $1.08 billion across the three state formula grants under Title I of WIOA. The formula funding levels in the request represent about a 40 percent cut, which NSC and Campaign to Invest in America’s Workforce have detailed would a devastating impact on local areas provision of WIOA funded services. These cuts are exacerbated by other cuts proposed in the request – the administration would eliminate the Indian and Native Americans national grant program, the Senior Community Services Employment Program (SCSEP), the Migrant and Seasonal Farmworker program, and Workforce Data Quality Initiative grants. The administration would direct the Secretary of Labor to set aside 1.5 percent of WIOA adult formula funds to support Indian and Native American programs and justifies the elimination of SCSEP because adults served under that program could be eligible for programming funded by WIOA adult formula dollars.

The administration requested a nearly 40 percent cut to the Wagner-Peyser Employment Service under WIOA Title III, and proposes refocusing Job Corps programs on older youth.

Despite their overall reduction in requests for workforce funding, the administration continued their focus on apprenticeship requesting $200 million for expansion of the new “Industry-Recognized” apprenticeship program created by the President’s Executive Order last summer, specifically to health care, information technology, and advanced manufacturing jobs.

The budget request includes full funding at authorized levels ($450,000,000) for the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) Training program, proposing a legislative adjustment that would “refocus” TAA training on apprenticeship and work-based learning strategies.

The budget request also includes $130 million in funding for Reemployment Services and Eligibility Assessments (RESEA), consistent with an extension of the program included as part of the February 9th bipartisan budget agreement.

Department of Education. Under the President’s proposed budget, The Department of Education is funded at $59.9 billion—which equals an $8 billion or 12% overall reduction from the 2018 annualized Continuing Resolution (CR) level. This request includes the cancellation of $1.6 billion in unobligated balances in the Pell Grant program, although the FY’19 addendum would not include this rescission.

Higher Education Act:

Pell Grants – Under the President’s budget, discretionary funding for Pell grants is maintained at a level of $22.5 billion. Combined with mandatory funding, the maximum award for FY’19 stands at $5,920 per-student, per-year. While the budget contains no financial changes to the Pell grant program, it does propose expanding Pell eligibility to high-quality, short-term programs that provide students with a credential, certification or license in an in-demand field. This suggested policy change is in line with the Higher Education Act reauthorization principles released by the White house late last year.

NSC has consistently advocated for the extension of Pell eligibility to short-term programs that are proven to be rigorous and of high-quality. This priority is reflected in our Skills For Good Jobs Agenda  and is embodied in Congress by the JOBS Act—bipartisan legislation introduced by Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Rob Portman (R-OH). Although the President’s budget does not contain specific policy guidelines, NSC is encouraged by the push to make postsecondary education more accessible for all students.

Federal Work Study – The budget contains a significant 75% cut to the Federal Work Study (FWS) program. The request justifies this substantial decrease by proposing to dramatically reform the FWS to support workforce and career-oriented training opportunities for low-income undergraduate students rather than “subsidizing employment as a means of financial aid.” This provision is consistent with the reforms made to the FWS program in the House proposed PROSPER Act, which would reauthorize the Higher Education Act if signed into law. The PROSPER Act, however, contained a $6 million increase for the program.

Adult Education: Notably, the President’s budget proposes a 15% cut to adult education state grants which are authorized under WIOA Title II—a number that is consistent with last year’s suggested cuts. These grants help provide foundational skills and English literacy instruction to over 1.5 million individuals. If enacted, these cuts would be detrimental to individuals in need of foundational skills to succeed in our 21st century workforce.

Career and Technical Education (CTE): In stark contrast to the President’s 2018 budget request which proposed a 15% cut to CTE state grants, his 2019 proposal contains level funding ($1.1 billion) for CTE—and refers to this funding as an important component of the President’s job creation agenda.

The budget proposes a range of program eliminations under the Education Department, most notable the elimination of the Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants (SEOG) which support low-income postsecondary students, and the cancellation of the State Longitudinal Data Systems grants that support state investments in educational data alignment.

Department of Health and Human Services

The Administration’s budget proposal for Health and Human Services proposes legislative changes to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program that would result in cuts to the current block grant program of about ten percent relative to current levels (from $16.3 to $15.1 billion) and would eliminate the TANF contingency fund, resulting in combined cuts of about $10 billion between 2019-2023. However, the budget also includes some proposals that may help to support better connections to education and training, including a proposed requirement that states spend at least 30 percent of combined federal and state funds on work, education, and training activities; work supports, including child care; and assessment/service provision for TANF eligible families. The budget also proposes to replace the current caseload reduction credit with an “employment credit” that rewards states for placing individuals in work; eliminating the separate two-parent work participation rate; and allowing states to count individuals who do not meet the monthly work participation requirements to count for partial credit towards a state’s overall requirements. It is unclear whether Congress will seriously consider changes to TANF this year, but this language does appear to be consistent with a broader Administration focus on expanding work requirements for low-income individuals on public assistance.

Department of Agriculture

Unlike last year, the President’s budget does not include proposals to shift a significant percentage of overall costs for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) onto states. However, the budget does propose some legislative changes to SNAP, including restricting state waivers for time restrictions on Able-Bodied Adults without Dependents (ABAWDs) to counties with at least ten percent unemployment; eliminating the “15 percent” exemption that allows states to exempt certain ABAWDs from time limits; and a proposal to convert part of the SNAP allotment from electronic benefits into USDA “Food Packages.” The budget would cut overall funding for SNAP by more than $200 billion over the next ten years if all proposed changes were enacted.

National Skills Coalition strongly opposes the cuts to workforce, education, and human services programs proposed in the FY 2019 Presidential Budget Request. At a time when U.S. businesses continually cite to the need for skilled workers to compete in a global economy – and when millions of workers need training to reach these skill levels and get and keep family-supporting jobs – we must invest in vital workforce, education and human services programs. Disinvestment harms our local communities, businesses and workers. NSC calls on Congress to reject the President’s proposals and continue our bipartisan commitment to investment in skills. 

 

 

FY 2019 – Authorized Levels

Current Levels – FY 2017 Omnibus

FY 2019 Presidential Budget Request

Change from Current – 2019 Budget Request

Department of Labor

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Title I – State Formula Grants

$3,293,978,000

$2,709,832,000

$1,629,522,000

-$1,080,310,000

WIOA Adult

$881,303,000

$815,556,000

$490,370,000

-$325,186,000

WIOA Dislocated Worker

$1,406,322,000

$1,020,860,000

 

$615,485,000

-$405,375,000

WIOA Youth

$943,828,000

$873,416,000

$523,667,000

-$349,749,000

Wagner-Peyser/Employment Service Grants

NA

$671,413,000

$416,315,000

 

-$255,098,000

Workforce Data Quality Initiative Grants

NA

$6,000,000

$0

-$6,000,000

Apprenticeship Grants

NA

$95,000,000

$200,000,000

$105,000,000

DW National Reserve

NA

$220,859,000

$51,000,000

-$169,859,000

Native American Programs

$530,000

$50,000,000

$0

-$50,000,000

Ex-Offender Activities

NA

$88,078,000

$78,324,000

-$9,754,000

Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers

$94,214,000

$81,896,000

$0

-$81,896,000

YouthBuild

$89,196,000

$84,534,000

$58,960,000

-$25,574,000

Senior Community Service Employment Program

$463,809,605

$433, 535,000

$0

-$433, 535, 000

Trade Adjustment Assistance

$450,000,000

*

$450,000,000

-

Department of Education

Career and Technical Education State Grants

NA

$1,117,598,000

$1,117,598,000

-

Adult Education and Family Literacy State Grants

$664,552,000

$581,955,000

$486,000,000

 

-$95,955,000

Federal Work Study

NA

$1,093,997000

$221,492,000

-$872,505,000

*Actual outlays for TAA for 2017 were $391,419,000. The program is authorized for up to $450,000,000 and the 2019 Presidential Budget Request includes funding up to the authorized level.

Posted In: Federal Funding, Career and Technical Education, SNAP Employment and Training, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Higher Education Access, Campaign to Invest in America’s Workforce
NSC joined with nearly 50 organizations sign on to letter to Senate Appropriators

On August 4, National Skills Coalition joined with almost 50 members of the Campaign to Invest in America’s Workforce submitted a letter to Senate appropriators urging them to pass a Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS) bill that includes adequate investments in job training and adult education as you work to complete the FY 2018 appropriations process.

Despite the growing demands for skills, the President proposed draconian cuts to vital workforce and education programs in his FY 2018 Presidential Budget Request. The House did not fully accept these proposals, but the Labor-HHS bill approved by the full House Appropriations Committee would still cut hundreds of millions of dollars from funding for the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), Pell Grants for low-income and working students, apprenticeship strategies, the Senior Community Service Employment Program, and other key investments in our economic competitiveness.

These cuts couldn’t come at a worse time for our economy. Ongoing state and local implementation of WIOA, as well as the upcoming reauthorizations of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act and the Higher Education Act, provide unprecedented opportunities to develop the skills of America’s workers through access to effective workforce education and training. Realizing this potential, however, requires sustained funding. And the proposed cuts in both the President’s budget request and the House Labor-HHS bill would come on time of historic disinvestments: since 2001 WIOA state training grants have been cut by 39%, CTE grants to states have been cut by 34%, and Adult Education funding has been cut by 22% when adjusted for inflation.

CIAW urged the committee to reject cuts to education and workforce programs, and instead mark up a Labor-HHS appropriations bill that will restore investments in our nation’s workers.

The organizations below, almost 50 members of CIAW, signed on to the letter.

Advance CTE
American Association of Community Colleges
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees
American Federation of Teachers
Association for Career and Technical Education
Arapahoe/Douglas COLORADO Workforce Development Board
Association of Community College Trustees
Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs
Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)
California Workforce Association
Coalition on Adult Basic Education
Corporation for a Skilled Workforce
Council for Adult and Experiential Learning
Easterseals
Goodwill Industries International, Inc.
Heartland Alliance
Indiana Workforce Board Association
Jobs for the Future
Maryland Workforce Association
Michigan Works! Association
Minnesota Workforce Council Association
National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity
National Association of Counties
National Association of Development Organizations
National Association of Regional Councils
National Association of State Workforce Agencies
National Associations of Workforce Boards
National Association of Workforce Development Professionals
National College Transition Network at World Education, Inc.
National Council of State Directors of Adult Education
National Job Corps Association
National Youth Employment Coalition
Network of Jewish Human Services
New York Association of Training and Employment Professionals
North Carolina Association of Workforce Development Boards
Northwest Wisconsin Workforce Investment Board
Oregon Workforce Partnership
Pennsylvania Workforce Development Association
Rocky Mountain Workforce Development Association
Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law
The Corps Network
The National Council for Workforce Education
Texas Association of Workforce Boards
Washington Workforce Association
Workforce Data Quality Campaign
Workforce Southwest Washington
Young Invincibles
YouthBuild USA

Posted In: Campaign to Invest in America’s Workforce

1,062 orgs tell Congress to restore funding.

  ·   By Josh Spaulding,

This week, the Campaign to Invest in America’s Workforce, convened by National Skills Coalition, along with the Committee for Education Funding, and the Coalition for Health Funding, delivered a letter signed by 1,062 national, state and local organizations representing all fifty states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands to the House and Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Committees urging them to restore funding in fiscal year (FY) 2015 for programs under their jurisdiction to the FY 2010 level of $163.6 billion and to end sequestration.

With the passage of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 (BBA), the top line FY 2015 discretionary funding level—called the 302(a) allocation—has been set at $1.014 trillion. This clears the way for appropriators to move forward setting the funding levels for each of the appropriations subcommittees—the 302(b) allocations—including the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (Labor-H) subcommittee. Once the Labor-H subcommittee receives its 302(b) allocation, it will then try to decide how to divvy up the funding between the agencies and programs under its jurisdiction, including federal employment, education, and occupational training programs. 

Since FY 2010, Congress has cut workforce development funding by about $1 billion. While the BBA provided partial sequestration relief in FY 2014, there will be substantially less relief in FY 2015 and without action sequestration will be back in full effect FY 2016. As NSC documented last year, these cuts have a significant impact on the ability of employment and job training programs to provide training and services to workers seeking new skills to find a good-paying job and employers seeking the skilled workforce necessary to compete in the global economy. 

NSC will continue to provide updates as Congress moves forward with the budget and appropriations process. 

Posted In: Federal Funding, Campaign to Invest in America’s Workforce

Congress approves 2014 spending bill.

  ·   By Angela Hanks,

This week, Congress approved legislation to fund the government for the remainder of fiscal year (FY) 2014. The House overwhelmingly approved the FY 2014 omnibus bill on Wednesday, by a margin of 359-67. The Senate voted to approve it 72-26the following day. This legislation increases funding for several workforce programs above FY 2013 post-sequestration levels; however, it does not fully restore the cuts made under sequestration.

The $1.012 trillion spending bill that emerged on Monday evening is a product of month-long negotiations between House and Senate appropriators that was kicked off after Congress passed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 (BBA) in late December. The BBA set overall federal spending levels for FY 2014 and 2015. The 2014 omnibus is the first large-scale funding bill to be approved since the FY 2012 omnibus bill was approved in late 2011. 

While the omnibus bill does fund the majority of workforce development programs above FY 2013 post-sequestration levels, it does not fully restore the cuts made by sequestration. In some cases, education and training programs were even funded at or below post-sequestration levels. Most notably, adult education state grants were funded at FY 2013 post-sequestration levels, and Wagner/Peyser state grants were funded slightly below post-sequestration levels. NSC has prepared a chart detailing funding for key education and training programs under the omnibus. In particular: 

  • WIA formula programs are funded at $2.588 billion ($35 billion above post-sequestration levels; $10 billion below FY 2013 enacted)
  • Wagner/Peyser state grants are funded at $ 664.184 million ($1 million below post-sequestration levels; $35 million below FY 2013 enacted) 
  • Pilots and Demos funding was zeroed out in the omnibus 
  • Career and Technical Education state grants are funded at $1.118 billion ($71 million above post-sequestration levels; $3 million below FY 2013 enacted) 
  • Adult Basic and Literacy Education state grants are funded at $563.955 million (funded at post-sequestration levels; $30 million below FY 2013 enacted) 

The Campaign to Invest in America’s Workforce (CIAW), convened by the National Skills Coalition, recently weighed in with Congress on the  omnibus. While we are aware that the Appropriations committees were constrained by overall funding levels set for the omnibus, and we appreciate efforts to restore funding for most workforce development programs above post-sequester levels, we nonetheless expressed our concern that funding is still below pre-sequester levels. 

 
Posted In: Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, Campaign to Invest in America’s Workforce

House passes bipartisan budget deal.

  ·   By Angela Hanks,

On December 12, the House voted 332-94 to approve the “Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013” (BBA), legislation setting overall federal spending levels for fiscal years (FY) 2014 and 2015. It is generally expected that the measure will clear the Senate early next week. Importantly, this compromise legislation partially rolls back the harmful sequestration cuts set to take effect in FY 2014 and 2015. Unfortunately, the BBA did not include an extension of the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program, which is set to expire on December 28. 

Brokered by Senate Budget Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) and House Budget Chair Paul Ryan (R-WI), the BBA sets overall spending at $1.012 trillion in FY 2014 and $1.014 trillion in FY 2015. Earlier budget resolutions passed in the House and Senate set spending at $967 billion and $1.058 trillion, respectively. The agreement also provides $63 billion in sequester relief over two years, which is divided evenly between defense and non-defense discretionary (NDD) programs. The agreement is front-loaded with about $45 billion in sequester relief coming in 2014, undoing nearly two-thirds of the NDD sequester, but then nearly three-quarters of the planned NDD sequester cuts will go back into effect in 2015. Though far from perfect, this agreement will restore order to the federal budget and appropriations process, and allow for some much needed reinvestment in our nation’s eroding domestic priorities. The BBA also gives Congress additional time to find an alternative permanent solution to fully eliminate sequestration in the remaining years.   

The BBA did not include an extension of the EUC program, the federally-funded extended Unemployment Insurance (UI) program that serves the long-term unemployed and ensures workers and their families have the financial assistance they need while trying to reenter the labor market. EUC benefits were extended last year as a part of the January fiscal cliff agreement, so there was hope that Congress would take similar action this year and include an extension in any compromise that emerged from the budget conference. 

However, the House will adjourn for the remainder of the year today, so it is certain that the EUC program will lapse. Congress could still come back at the beginning of next year and retroactively extend the program, although the lapse will mean that some long-term unemployed will find themselves without any income support going into 2014. If Congress fails to extend the program, more than one million individuals will lose their UI benefits. NSC strongly supports the EUC program, and will urge Congress to restore the program in January. 

Now that topline spending levels have been set, appropriators will move to set specific spending levels for all 12 appropriations bills, known as 302(b) allocations. The Campaign to Invest in America’s Workforce (CIAW) – which NSC convenes – along with the Coalition for Health Funding (CHF) and the Committee on Education Funding (CEF) recently wrote to appropriators urging them to provide the largest possible FY 2014 302(b) allocation to the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS) appropriations bill. Labor-HHS funds a wide range of critical education and training activities. 

The continuing resolution (CR) currently funding the government will expire on January 15. If appropriators fail to pass all 12 spending bills before January 15, Congress will either pass another CR, or enact some spending bills in combination with a CR to fund the remainder of the government for the rest of the year. Both chambers already passed several appropriations bills earlier this year; however, in many cases there was a substantial gap between what came out of the House and Senate appropriations committees, in part because the two chambers were working off of two very different topline spending numbers. Now that both chambers are working off of the same topline number, it seems likely that there could be some consensus on some of the individual appropriations bills. 

National Skills Coalition supports the BBA, and applauds members of Congress for working in a bipartisan manner to produce a budget agreement. However, Congress and the Administration still must find a long-term solution to sequestration that does not inflict further damage on non-defense discretionary programs, including programs that build the skills of America’s workers. NSC will continue to weigh in with policymakers on sequestration and other funding issues. 

Posted In: Federal Funding, Campaign to Invest in America’s Workforce

Senate Appropriations marks up Labor-H.

  ·   By Angela Hanks,

On July 11, the Senate Committee on Appropriations approved its fiscal year (FY) 2014 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (Labor-H) appropriations bill, 16-14. National Skills Coalition and the Campaign to Invest in America’s Workforce (CIAW), which NSC co-convenes, recently wrote to members of the Appropriations committee expressing support for the workforce development provisions of the Labor-H bill. CIAW also joined the Coalition for Health Funding (CHF) and the Committee for Education Funding (CEF) in expressing support for the Labor-H bill.

Importantly, the Senate Labor-H bill replaces the damaging sequester, and instead adopts funding levels consistent with the levels established as a part of the January fiscal cliff agreement, the American Taxpayer Relief Act. It is also consistent with levels established by the FY 2014 Senate budget resolution. The Senate Labor-H bill is in stark contrast to the House Labor-H allocation that is 18.6 percent below the final FY 2013 sequester level and 22.2 percent below the FY 2013 pre-sequester Continuing Resolution level.

In particular, the Senate bill makes a number of critical new investments in federal workforce development programs.  The bill:

  • Includes an additional $86 million for Workforce Investment Act (WIA) formula grant to States to help low-skilled adults, dislocated workers, and low-income youth obtain the skills and credentials they need to succeed in the workplace. 
  • Increases the statewide set-aside under WIA from 5 to 7.5 percent (it was previously at 15 percent), which will help those states that are using the funds support innovative strategies such as career pathways and sector partnerships. 
  • Provides an additional $30 million for Reemployment Services under the Wagner-Peyser Employment Services to help the nearly 12 million currently unemployed U.S. workers more rapidly reenter the labor market.
  • Increases funding for the Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS) by $37 million to help transitioning and disabled veterans reenter the civilian labor market. 
  • Provides $22 million through the Career and Technical Education (CTE) National Programs and the GPRA Data/HEA Program Evaluation program for a new dual enrollment program to support career pathways for students, including adult basic education students, in career and technical education. 
  • Includes an additional $3 million for Adult Education National Leadership Activities to support the expansion of the Department of Education’s reentry education model demonstration initiative. 
  • Continues to provide support for low-income students enrolled in postsecondary education by increasing the maximum Pell grant to $5,785 and increasing funding for the Federal Work Study program by $50 million. 
  • Maintains funding for the Senior Community Service Employment Program that provides low-income unemployed older adults with job training and employment and supportive services to help them obtain employment in their communities.

Although the Senate Labor-H bill does make many new investments in workforce development programs, it failed to include language to reinstate the Ability to Benefit (ATB) provisions under the Pell grant program. The ATB provisions—which allowed students who have demonstrated college readiness but lack a high school diploma or equivalent to access federal financial aid—were previously eliminated as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of FY 2012. Earlier this year, Senator Harkin offered an amendment to the FY 2013 continuing resolution that would have partially reinstated the ATB provisions for individuals enrolled in Career Pathways programs; however, that amendment failed to secure enough votes for adoption.

Although the Senate Labor-H bill was successfully reported out of committee, it is unlikely that it will be taken up by the full Senate. The House has given no indication that it will consider an FY 2014 Labor-H bill even at the subcommittee level, so lawmakers will soon begin focusing on developing a continuing resolution (CR) for FY 2014, rather than moving individual appropriations bills.

It will likely be quite difficult for that process to move forward, because the House topline allocation for FY 2014 assumes sequestration will remain in effect—making even deeper cuts to non-defense discretionary programs like workforce development in order to replace the defense sequester—and the Senate allocation does not. Additionally, while the House and Senate seem to agree that the sequester should be replaced, they sharply disagree on how to do so; while the Senate continues to insist on an alternative that includes revenue increases (in addition to spending cuts), the House insists that revenue increases are a non-starter and has argued for deep cuts to entitlement programs like SNAP (formerly known as Food Stamps) and Medicaid. Both sides seem to be digging in their heels for now, and it is not currently clear how the debate will proceed (failure to pass at least a short-term CR by September 30 will result in a government shutdown).

It is important to continue to help policymakers understand the impact of funding cuts on the ability of jobseekers to obtain the skills they need to succeed in the labor market and for employers to find the skilled workforce they need to compete in the global economy. National Skills Coalition will continue to provide updates on the appropriations process as information becomes available.

Posted In: Federal Funding, SNAP Employment and Training, Career and Technical Education, Adult Basic Education, Higher Education Access, Campaign to Invest in America’s Workforce

House proposal would make devastating cuts.

Earlier this week, the House Appropriations Committee released its proposed funding allocations for the fiscal year (FY) 2014 appropriations bills. The House proposal would make drastic cuts to health, education, job training and social services programs.

Each year, the House and Senate appropriations committees must set specific funding levels—referred to as “302(b) allocations”—for each of the twelve regular appropriations bills, including the bill providing funding for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and related agencies (commonly referred to as the “Labor-HHS bill”).

The proposed 302(b) allocation for the FY 2014 Labor-HHS bill is 18.6 percent below the FY 2013 post-sequester funding level, and is 22.2 percent below the FY 2013 pre-sequester level. Cuts of this magnitude would cause real and irreparable harm to millions of Americans. 

National Skills Coalition estimates that if the committee’s proposal is enacted into law, workforce programs would lose $1.4 billion in funding in 2014 alone—and more than 6 million people would immediately lose access to critical education and training services.
 
National Skills Coalition, as a co-convener of the Campaign to Invest in America’s Workforce (CIAW) recently joined with the Coalition for Health Funding and the Committee for Education Funding on behalf of more than 900 national, state and local organizations to urge the Committee to reject the proposed 302(b) allocations. Prior to the committee’s announcement, this same group of organizations wrote to House and Senate appropriators urging them to prioritize funding for health, education, job training, and social services programs in the 2014 appropriations cycle.

Although the Senate has not yet released its 302(b) allocations, it is unlikely that they will resemble the House allocations. The Senate plans to fund the government at $1.06 trillion—consistent with the 2011 deficit reduction law—while the House plans to fund the government at $960B, which is well below the existing budgetary caps.

Labor-HHS programs—along with other discretionary programs—have contributed $1.5 trillion to deficit reduction since FY 2011. National Skills Coalition, along with the signing organizations, has called for Congress to adopt a balanced approach to deficit reduction that does not include further cuts to discretionary programs. NSC will continue to monitor developments in the FY 2014 budget and appropriations process relating to workforce funding, and will provide updates to the field as new information becomes available.

Posted In: Federal Funding, Campaign to Invest in America’s Workforce
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